Injuries During Birth

By MedicalNegligence

Injuries During Birth – The Emotional and Financial Cost

Giving birth is always going to be a life-changing event. You are giving life to a new family member for whom you will be responsible for many years to come. It is considered to be one of the most natural aspects of life, but childbirth is physically traumatic for both mother and child. Modern medical practice has made it a much safer procedure but it is not without risks, and injuries are not uncommon.

Physical injuries to the baby such as fractures can be serious but may heal quickly. Nerve or brain damage can have far more devastating consequences with long-term effects on the life of your baby. These types of injuries are sometimes not detected immediately after the birth. It is not always easy to assess the cause of injuries as some conditions can be genetic, arise during pregnancy or occur as a direct result of labor and delivery.

Some injuries to the mother are relatively normal, with some pain, discomfort and incontinence likely to last for a few weeks. However, many women suffer tears, pelvic fractures and muscle damage that are not diagnosed, or are misdiagnosed at the time. Undetected injuries can also go unreported after the event, even if symptoms continue for a long time. This can be because the mother may consider they are the normal after-effects of childbirth. Some conditions, such as incontinence, are also embarrassing for some new mothers to discuss.

Risks to the Baby

Babies’ bones are more flexible than adults and, during the birth process, the skeleton can bend and compress. But the bones are also more fragile and can incur fractures which, although painful for the baby, will usually heal quickly. Problems can arise if the fracture is not detected and treated quickly, possibly leaving the child with a deformity.

The nervous system is hugely complex and damage to nerves during delivery can have widely varying consequences. Damage can be caused by stretching, compressing or even severing nerves. Depending on the severity, symptoms of nerve damage could be loss of feeling in extremities, facial paralysis, blindness, respiratory problems or complete paralysis.

Brain damage is all too common during birth and there can be a number of causes. A baby’s brain is extremely fragile at this stage of its development and the skull is soft and flexible to allow passage through the birth canal. Damage can be caused by trauma, compression, infection, oxygen starvation, toxins or an interruption in the blood flow.

Risks to the Mother

Perineal tearing is among the most common birth injuries that women suffer from during childbirth. However, of the 35 to 40% of women who are affected, only 3 to 5% are correctly diagnosed at the time. Many new mothers still suffer from perineal pain months after the birth.

Muscle tears are also common and the pelvic floor muscles are particularly susceptible. A number of women suffer pelvic fractures which frequently go undiagnosed.

Infection is always a risk during any medical procedure, however sterile the staff try to keep the delivery room.

Cesarean birth, or C-section, is one of the most common forms of surgery, but this comes with risks of its own. Although not frequent, injuries during C-sections can be caused to internal organs, with the bladder being most at risk. As with any surgery involving anaesthetic, there is the possibility of human error.

The symptoms of preeclampsia are usually apparent, with abnormally high blood pressure and swelling of the extremities. It can be monitored and safely treated during pregnancy. However, when misdiagnosed or undetected can be extremely serious for both mother and baby.

Errors in Healthcare

Healthcare is a vocation and those who choose it as their profession only want the best for their patients. But hospitals are constantly under pressure as staff numbers have steadily fallen and doctors and nurses work ever increasing hours.

Many of the above injuries can have a variety of causes; some genetic, some occurring during pregnancy and others due to a particularly difficult labor and birth. But human error or, in a worst-case scenario, negligence can be a factor. Regardless of the pressures of the job, the medical staff must be accountable when mistakes are made, especially when they have life changing effects.

The Cost of Injuries at Birth

When a baby incurs life altering injuries during birth, the parents may have to devote themselves to the lifelong care of their child. The financial burden might be the least of their worries as they bear the emotional cost of seeing them growing up with a disability or brain damage.

Depending on the severity of the injury, the child may grow to have a degree of self-sufficiency or could be dependent on others for life. In some cases, the child’s life expectancy is shortened. The parents will try to provide the best quality of life while all the time knowing that they will lose their baby.

Financially, the cost of ongoing care can be enormous. Specialist care and equipment, medical costs, loss of earnings and out of pocket expenses soon mount up.

Medical Negligence Compensation

An injury to your baby during birth can be very traumatic with your expectations for your family life vastly altered. When the injury is to you as a mother, you can suffer unnecessary pain, embarrassment, loss of libido and self-esteem.

If you feel that medical negligence is partly or wholly to blame for a birth injury to you or your baby you may be able to claim compensation from the healthcare provider. To find out how to claim compensation for a birth injury in the UK. you should consult a legal professional with expertise in medical cases who will advise you how to proceed.

You will need the records of the medical treatment relative to the birth and the consequent injury. The amount of compensation you can expect will depend on the extent of the injuries, the long-term effects and the cost of medical care and equipment.